Philosophy 446 / Psychology 446 / Philosophy 673

Seminar in Cognitive Science

Fall, 2007

Professor: Paul Thagard

Office hours (HH368): MF 1:00-2:00; and by appointment.

Email: Phone: extension 33594.

Web page:

Time: TTh, 10:00-11:20. ML 212

Student presentations (maximum 7 minutes):

Nov. 27: Cameron, Kao, Morgan, Nunnenmacher, Patterson, Polanowski, Poyntz, Rutgers, Sherwood, Starmans

Nov. 29: Blanchard, Clipsham, Dinin, Gingerich, Hirjee, Hubbard, Jones, MacDonald, Meir, Smith

Textbook: Susan Blackmore: Consciousness, An Introduction. Additional readings will be made available electronically later in the term.

Assignments: Marks will be based on:

Topics for Essay 1, 2007, updated.

Instructions for Essay 2, 2007, updated.

Description: This course is an interdisciplinary seminar, combining ideas from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and computer science. It's focus will be on the nature of consciousness and related issues, such as the nature of emotions and the basis for ethical judgments.


 Week  Dates  Topic Blackmore Section
 1 Sept. 11-13 Introduction Introduction
 2  Sept. 18-20 The Problem One
 3  Sept. 25-27 The World Two
 4 Oct. 2-4 The Self  Three
 5  Oct. 9-11 Evolution Four
 6  Oct. 16-18 Machines Five
 7 Oct. 23-25 The Brain Six
 8  Oct. 30-Nov. 1 Weird things Seven, Eight
 9  Nov. 6-8 First person Nine
 10 Nov. 13-15 Emotions

Thagard, Emotional Consciousness

Niedenthal, Embodying Emotion

11 Nov. 20-22 Ethics

Conscience and moral intuition

Neuroscience and legal responsibility

12 Nov. 27-29 Student reports  


Instructions for writing commentaries:

For each class in weeks 2-11, hand in at the BEGINNING of the class a short commentary, 100-150 words on the claim, hypothesis, or issue that you found most interesting in the reading. Each of Blackmore's sections has 3 chapters; your commentary for the Tuesday class should be based on the first 2 chapters, and the commentary for the Thursday class should be based on the third. For week 8, do Section Seven for Tuesday and Section Eight for Thursday.

Your commentary should identify the claim that interests you and the strongest evidence for and against it. The purpose of these commentaries is to ensure that everyone comes to class prepared for discussion.

Cognitive Science resources, including consciousness links.

From the Faculty of Arts:

All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes an academic offense, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their academic actions.  When the commission of an offense is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline).  For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline) which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (p.1:11).  If you need help in learning how to avoid offenses such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission, or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your course instructor for guidance.  Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean.

Faculty of Arts information on plagiarism and other offences.

This class is a core course for the Cognitive Science Option.

Lecture notes

Updated notes will be marked "2007".

Week 1, Introduction to Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2007.

Week 2. The Problem of Consciousness. 2007

Week 3. The World. 2007

Week 4. The Self. 2007

Week 5. Evolution. 2007

Week 6. Machines. 2007

Week 7. Brains. 2007

Week 8. Miscellaneous. 2007

Week 9. First person 2007.

Week 10: Emotions. 2007

Week 11: Ethics. 2007.

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Nov. 29, 2007